Modern advertising campaigns often involve the use of social media platforms. One common form of social media advertising is the sharing of a customer’s posts by a business. However, it is important to remember, any time you post something you did not create, you could end up in hot copyright water (and we are not talking about soothing hot-tub hot–this is the uncomfortable hot we are alluding to).
Copyright is a legal right that protects original works of authorship. Typically, if you create a visual, audio or written work, you obtain a copyright from the moment you create the work. As the copyright owner, you have certain rights under the law to stop others from copying or distributing your work, or creating new works based on your work. It is possible to infringe copyright without intending to do so. It may still be a copyright infringement if the post gives credit to the copyright owner, includes a disclaimer that no copyright infringement is intended or that the use is a fair use.
The rules governing sharing of material vary across social media platforms. For example, on Twitter, users may freely repost Tweets from other Twitter users. By becoming a Twitter user, one agrees to Twitter’s Terms of Service, which permit users to “Retweet” the content of other Twitter users and allows other Twitter users to Retweet your content. On Facebook, there is a “share” feature that allows users to share posts of others with their own friends or followers. Yet, Instagram, an increasingly popular social media platform, has no native “regram” function that will allow Instagram users to share others’ content in a way similar to retweets and shares on Facebook, without ripping the post out of its original context. Instagram’s community guidelines requires Instagram users to share only photos and videos that they have taken or have the right to share.
Here are some tips to ensure that the content you post to Instagram doesn’t violate copyright law:
- Only post original content that you’ve created yourself
- Make sure that you’ve obtained the permission (preferably in writing) of the copyright owner if you are regramming someone else’s content
- You might also be able to use someone else’s content on Instagram if your use is covered by fair use or some other exception to copyright law
Remember, even if you modified the work or added your own original material to it, it may still be an infringement of copyright.
To learn more about copyrights and social media laws, feel free to schedule a consultation with an attorney using this link or calling our office at 323.543.4453.
Written by Judy Yen, Associate
Judy Yen graduated from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles in May 2019. Born and raised in Taiwan, Judy grew up in a family of artists and entrepreneurs who fostered her passion for art and business.
In law school, Judy was a member of the Loyola Fashion Law Clinic and the Transactional Negotiation Team. Last summer, Judy worked for Paul Hastings LLP in their Shanghai office, where she gained valuable experience in international corporate law, including working on two IPO projects. She received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Accounting from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese.
Judy is an avid foodie who loves to both explore cool restaurants and try new recipes at home. She also likes oil painting, swimming, and hiking.